“People are like, ‘Oh, yeah, just stop. It’ll be easy,’” Interventionist and Founder of the Ken Seeley Rehab Center, Ken Seeley, explained. “It’s almost impossible.”
Within one month, two valley teachers were arrested for being intoxicated on the job.
To have this happen is extremely rare, but what it does do is shed a light on two post-pandemic realities we now live in: substance abuse and mental health.
“Oh, my God, addiction has gotten only worse since the pandemic,” Seeley said.
After hearing about these teachers and knowing the widespread mental health struggles educators have faced these past two years, Seeley wasn’t shocked.
“Most teachers were working out of home and so they’re not being monitored as they would be going to school,” he continued. “So they may have drank a little bit more and then maybe they crossed that line from abuse to addiction. Now, they don’t know how to turn it off. They don’t know how to stop.”
And they’re not alone.
“As we all know, alcohol sales went way up during the pandemic,” Seeley explained. “People were able to find their drugs and we’re seeing that there’s a lot more people that are overdosing and dying. There’s a lot of people out there suffering from it.”
After the arrests, Coachella Valley and Palm Springs Unified School Districts shared ways they are currently helping teachers who may be struggling.
PSUSD provides an Employee Assistance Program where staff can access therapists and psychiatrists for any mental or substance abuse issues.
CVUSD also has an assistance program that includes a 24/7 hotline, recovery guidance, skills to cope with stress and more for free.
For Seeley, to stop starts with support.
“My heart goes out for these teachers,” he said. “I hope they look at it and say, ‘You know what, yeah, I might have a drinking problem but I’m going to do the right thing.’ Lead by example and say, ‘I’m going to go get help.’ Don’t dig anymore. Stop now and get into recovery and see the benefits that life has for you in this new life of recovery.”
We also reached out to the Coachella Valley Teachers Association to ask how the union is currently supporting teachers, but they declined to comment.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, there are resources ranging from 12 step programs to therapy.
For more information on the Ken Seeley Rehab Center, click here.
Click here for a link to the Employee Assistance Program.